State Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata, D-Oakland, who earlier this week was made a lame duck as voters rejected the term-limits reform measure Proposition 93, announced today he’ll kick off a gun-buyback event he helped organize by handing in his own shootin’ iron.
Yes, the lawmaker who helped shore up one of the nation’s most stringent assault weapon bans has been a gun owner for many years; he even had a permit to carry a concealed handgun, although he says he let that lapse a few years ago and wasn’t carrying when he was carjacked in late December. The pistol-packin’ Perata used to drive the National Rifle Association and similar groups wild, but Perata contended it was threats from overzealous gun enthusiasts that had driven him to arm himself.
No more, apparently. Cameras have been invited to watch Perata hand his gun over to Oakland Police Chief Wayne Tucker tomorrow morning, as volunteers will tally his as the first of what they hope will be at least 300 handguns and assault weapons taken off the street. The cameras will be banned for the rest of the event, however, as this is a “no questions asked, no ID required” event aimed at letting people drop off weapons anonymously.
Asked what kind of handgun Perata will surrender, and whether that’s the only firearm he owns, spokeswoman Alicia Trost replied, “All I know is that he is turning in a gun tomorrow.” She did say, however, that Perata will forgo the cash to which he’s entitled.
(UPDATE @ 4:35 P.M. FRIDAY: “You asked the right questions, and got BS for an answer,” is what Chuck Michel — a partner in “the largest law firm practicing firearm and related law West of the Mississippi” down in Long Beach, and counsel to the California Rifle & Pistol Association — just e-mailed me in reply to my request for his thoughts on this post.)
(UPDATE @ 11:03 A.M. SUNDAY: Aha! From Kamika Dunlap’s story in today’s edition: “Perata turned in his own .357 magnum. He said he had a permit to carry a concealed handgun until it lapsed a few years ago. The senator, however, said he still keeps a shotgun at his house for protection.”)
Perata teamed up with Alameda County officials and the faith-based community to stage this “One Less Gun” buyback, offering $250 cash for each working handgun or assault weapon dropped off between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. tomorrow, Saturday, Feb. 9, at Allen Temple Baptist Church, 8501 International Blvd. in Oakland; True Vine Ministries, 896 Isabella St. in Oakland; or Christian Cathedral, 2433 Coolidge Ave. in Oakland.
No shotguns or rifles will be bought, only handguns and assault weapons; police will determine which firearms are eligible for payment. Those taken will be sent to The Crucible, an Oakland nonprofit metalworking and sculpture studio, to be melted down and turned into a peace monument.
Perata’s office says there has been aggressive outreach for the buyback through nonprofits, churches and school districts; AC Transit handed out 10,000 flyers to commuters, and Oakland fire stations distributed them as well. Golden State Warriors forward Al Harrington touted the event in a public-service announcement which has been broadcast locally and put on the Oracle Arena’s big screen during Thursday night’s game, and Perata did two PSAs of his home.